An in-depth look at Apple’s MacBook Air M1

Although there weren’t quite as many new products to review this week as there were in the previous couple of weeks, the devices we did get our hands on were impressive. We put Apple’s new MacBook Air with M1 system-on-chip to the test, as well as AMD’s latest graphics cards, the Radeon 6800 and 6800XT. The gist for both is that they’re powerful and quite competitive. The new MacBook Air runs like similarly to an iPad Pro, which is to say that it’s speedy and smooth and now silent thanks to its new fanless design. The GPUs are strong competitors in the gaming space with excellent performance and good cooling. We’ve collected the week’s reviews here, so read on to learn more about each new device.

graphical user interface, website: Apple MacBook Air M1

© Devindra Hardawar / Engadget
Apple MacBook Air M1

a screen shot of an open laptop computer sitting on top of a table

Apple has been working towards the MacBook Air M1 for a while now; the company has spent a decade building its own mobile chips and the M1 is their first system-on-a-chip for their laptop line. Much like their mobile devices, the M1 provides users with a smooth, unified experience between hardware and software. Devindra Hardawar said it reminded him of working on an iPad Pro; start up time was instantaneous, apps were immediately responsive and even bogged-down web pages loaded easily in Safari. He was particularly impressed with his gaming experiences, an area where Apple’s laptops usually feel insufficient. 


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An eight-core chip based on ARM design, the M1 SoC will require developers to rebuild software to take full advantage of its processing power. However Apple has included a Rosetta 2 emulator in the M1 laptop so users can still run older Intel x86 based apps. The physical build of the MacBook Air M1 is similar to its predecessor: lightweight at 2.8 pounds with a sturdy unibody case, a keyboard with good depth and the same impressive 13.3 inch Retina display. The only features that Devindra found lacking were the 720p webcam and the number of USB-C ports. 

And to top it off, the new MacBook Air is already a bit cheaper than it started out. Amazon cut $50 from the price of the 512GB gold model, bringing it down to $1,199. It’s not a huge discount, but it’s better than…